Broadcasters Tell FCC Regulation Won’t Boost Local Content

Apr 28, 2008  •  Post A Comment

Broadcasters are warning the Federal Communications Commission against requiring additional local broadcast content or more evidence of local public service during license renewal.
Responding to suggestions from consumer groups and some legislators that local content and “public interest” are casualties in media mergers and proposals from the FCC to do more, the broadcasters say there is little evidence of problems under the existing rules, and additional ones are unnecessary and ill-advised.
“Without local programming and services, broadcasters will lose viewers and listeners and thus the advertisers that are the lifeblood of their business,” the National Association of Broadcasters told the FCC on Monday. “Burdensome and intrusive regulation cannot be justified by unquantified and unproven suggestions that not all broadcasters are providing some appropriate level of service.”
The NAB also argued that serving the best needs of the local community doesn’t necessarily mean doing so with local content.
“It is more realistic and practical to treat programming as locally relevant regardless of where it is produced,” the group argues, citing content on presidential races, AIDS and other issues.
When the FCC eased rules for media ownership in December, it also offered a number of proposals to better monitor and increase local content. Among the proposals are requirements that stations establish community advisory boards, that they pre-review network programming and that they demonstrate evidence of local programming during station license renewals.
Comments on the changes were due at the FCC on Monday.
Individual broadcasters, affiliates and networks also argued against regulation.
“ABC strongly believes that any additional regulation to encourage localism is unnecessary and potentially harmful to localism,” it said in its filing. “Our stations—and stations run by our competitors—determine how best to serve their local management and local decisions,” Disney said in its filing.
The NBC Television Affiliates Association warned that a requirement for across-the-board pre-screening of network shows “would be incompatible with the way in which the NBC network distributes programming to its affiliates.” The CBS Network Affiliates Association took a similar position
While those broadcasters opposed FCC action, some minority broadcasters urged the FCC to act.
The National Association of Black-Owned Broadcasters suggested consolidation had led to stations “being operated as ‘broadcast jukeboxes’ broadcasting an endless supply of music or other entertainment programming, but no local service to their community.”


  1. Regarding this issue-Businesses always say they don’t want to be regulated, that the market best deteermines the needs of a community, etc. In reality, the unregulated, or insufficiently regulated, market produces things like the sub-prime mortgage crisis, increased homelessness, pollution, etc.
    As I recall, the broadcasters say it won’t really limit diversity in viewpoints to allow more consolidation of TV and newspaper ownership because there are other sources for news today, such as the Internet.
    Yet out of the other side of their mouth, they opose net neutrality legislation which would prevent telecoms from favoring larger entities in Internet connectivity. Without net neutrality, the Internet is not really content neutral because unpopular viewpoints will have slower connection speeds.
    The statement that national stations do meet local needs because they cover national issues doesn’t begin to adddress the need for coverage of truly local issues, such as, here in Minnesota, the 35W bridge collapse, etc..

  2. For me the issue isn’t whether the content we’ll be seeing on the new digital channels is “local” but whether it will actually be “programming.” As opposed to infomercials and home shopping channels. Because the industry is spending billions of dollars on the DTV conversion, and if it just results in three times the amount of the type of content that is currently seen in most markets during overnights and fringe, that will be one tremendous waste of resources. Nobody will watch and before you know it, stations will be multicasting their main signal on all of their digital channels and an opportunity for both public service and profitability will be lost.
    There are millions of TV households tired of high cable bills, that would probably use the digital conversion as the perfect excuse to drop cable (or satellite), if local broadcasters will step up and provide programming for them to watch; a nice mix of locally produced, first-run syndie and classic TV would really be refreshing.

  3. It is not right to control content for radio broadcasting, because of the large number of signals available to listen to. Some regulation of television may be needed to prevent television stations from becoming commercial “jukeboxes” I have a “cable” system that provides 64 channels of programing. When I have it figured out that I am watching a “stupid infomercial” I immediately switch the “channel” to one of 2 PBS stations on my cable system. In otherwords “punch goes the finger” to the Public Broadcasting Service, on the remote. If the program is really good or interesting “commercial TV” has lost a viewer for 30 or more minutes

  4. Neat blog layout! Very easy on the eyes.. i like the colors you picked out

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